A lot of people wrote last week to chastise me for being too quick to jump on the dairy industry following the recent video revelations of abuse on an Ohio dairy. Some wrote to defend the dairy industry and its animal-care record; they made the point that – given the past history of the activist group that released the video – the odds were fairly high that the footage was totally contrived.
Sometimes, in an effort to be concise, I leave out a lot of things. I certainly understand that the dairy industry as a whole does a good job from an animal welfare, food safety and management standpoint. I also fully recognize that the video made no sense and seemed to be contrived at best, if not fully faked. It simply makes no sense that anyone would behave in such a despicable way.
My point wasn’t that this type of thing is widespread, but however rare and contrived these things are, they’ve happened all too frequently. My bigotry is based on this fact. It boils down to my belief that there’s a fundamental disconnect between the dairy and beef industries that requires the dairy industry to be far more vigilant than it has been in some respects.
The beef industry suffers from a similar disconnect in other areas. For instance, to ranchers, beef is the fundamental focus; after all, it’s the primary product. But beef is essentially a byproduct for the dairy industry. The truth is you don’t see these problems occurring in the milk-production phase of the dairy industry; it’s usually when the animals have entered the beef production – or byproduct – side of things.
I understand these videos aren’t accurate depictions, and that such videos are often staged or so distorted that they have little basis in reality. My point is that it doesn’t matter, as they do real and significant damage to our industry every time they happen. Regardless of the circumstances, the dairy industry must be far more vigilant in preventing these types of circumstances from occurring. Just embracing the fact that you will be misrepresented at any opportunity is perhaps the most important step.
My bigotry has nothing to do with facts – bigotry rarely does. I’m just saying the dairy industry must act decisively to prevent this trend from continuing.